Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Valerie Percy

Shattered Glass

Loraine Percy stirred in bed at the sound of glass breaking at about 4:50 a.m. on Sunday, September 18, 1966. Half-awake, she considered the noise and decided that one of the Percy children had accidentally knocked a water glass off a nightstand. Ten minutes later, she was awakened again, this time by a baleful moan.

She got up and followed the sound down the hallway that connected the master bedroom with a row of three children's rooms perhaps 25 paces away. She paused at Sharon's door but realized the sound was coming from Valerie's room.

She went there, opened the door and was startled to see a man standing over Valerie's bed and shining a flashlight on her body, which was painted with wet blood from the top of her head to below her navel.

The intruder shone his light in Mrs. Percy's face, which limited her ability to describe him in detail. (She would later say he was a white man on the short side, roughly 5'8" and 160 pounds. He had dark hair and wore a checkered shirt.)

Sketch of suspect
Sketch of suspect

Loraine Percy turned and ran back toward her bedroom, pausing to push a button that activated a siren-style burglar alarm outside the house. The burglar apparently followed her out of the room. He retraced his path through the house: down a circular staircase, through a hallway into the music room, and then out a french door onto the patio.

Loraine's screams awoke her husband, and the couple rushed back to Valerie's side. They sensed a faint pulse. Percy rushed to a phone and called the police emergency number.

Next door, medical doctor Robert Hohf and his wife, Nydia, were awakened by the shrill burglar alarm. Mrs. Hohf ran to the backyard to look for intruders but saw nothing.

Moments later, the couple's phone rang; it was Chuck Percy, urgently asking for the doctor to come help Valerie. Hohf pulled trousers over his pajamas and hurried to Valerie's room.

It was no use. Hohf walked downstairs, where the family had gathered in the living room. (Son Roger was away at college, and son Mark was sleeping over at a friend's house.) The doctor informed the Percys that Valerie was gone.

Later, Hohf would marvel at the family's composure in the face of such horror.

"They were marvelously controlled," he said. "They accepted. Then they tried to organize themselves for doing the many things that must be done. They withheld their great grief. They did not, through that long day, impose their grief on others."

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